What if you have never seen anybody read to a baby before? What if all you can find are vague assertions that this is something you need to do, but you can’t find more details or instructions? What if YouTube is only showing you more and more videos of cats? How will you know what to expect? It may be comforting to know that babies can be different, such as the little guy in the photo who cries every time a story is finished.
Here are some helpful guidelines to get you started:
- Babies do not have much of an attention span. That’s normal. Sharing books for just a few minutes at a time when you have their attention is more helpful than sharing books for any length of time when they are hungry, fussy, or sleepy.
- Babies under 3 months don’t understand much. Not a lot interests them. They can’t even be bothered to hold a book. Don’t be discouraged. They mostly enjoy hearing your voice, so you can read whatever you want, or tell your own stories.
- Babies like simple pictures. If a picture is busy your baby will probably find it confusing. They also like photographs more than drawings and they like pictures of faces more than almost anything else.
- Babies are not born knowing how books work; so don’t expect them to start leafing through novels like a pro. They will probably start by holding the book and tasting it.
- Once they start opening and closing books on their own, or turning the pages, they will probably want to keep doing that. So if you were expecting to read books from start to finish, it can be frustrating.
This doesn’t make reading with babies sound very exciting, but really all this means is that you need a different approach. You will need to get used to talking about the pictures, and telling your own stories. Play with the books and play with your baby. Have fun sharing photo albums with your baby and making noises when you see pictures of animals and machines.
Reading with babies is very different than reading with older children, and having an idea of what is an age-appropriate reaction for a baby can make the difference between enjoying the experience and thinking that something is wrong.
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